Friday, April 07, 2006
Why is there a strike?
UNICCO is a Boston-based company with whom the University of Miami contracts to provide cleaning and groundskeeping services. When the strike began, on February 28th, many of the workers were making around $6.50 an hour (some after 25 years of service). They had no health benefits and were often asked to do jobs for which they were not properly trained, including mixing chemicals in unsafe ways. When they began attempts to unionize with SEIU, UNICCO kicked in with the usual anti-union practices. Currently, the National Labor Relations Board has found "reason to believe" that UNICCO threatened, intimidated, interrogated and spied on pro-union workers on campus. This finding by the NLRB is equivalent to an indictment for a crime in labor law. There is a hearing scheduled for the end of May, but it may be delayed because the NLRB is also investigating the company for firing a leading union organizer on the eve of the strike vote and making numerous threats against striking workers. To protest these unfair labor practices, about 140 of the 400 workers went on strike on February 28th.